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Welcome to the blog of The Killer Nacho, known to most mortals as Timothy J. Sharpe, a Computer Science graduate of Messiah College and currently a Systems Analyst for Sunoco Logistics. Within this tome of pages, one will find my innermost thoughts about various things concerning things that I enjoy. These subjects include, but are not limited to, roleplaying, gaming, American Football (the NFL), things to do with computers, philosophy, movies that are awesome, TV shows that are awesome, my own writings and creative works, and dangerous Mexican snacks.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

NFL 2012 Week 15 Power Rankings and Predictions

Week 14 was a strange week, overall, with many top teams dropping off the ranks. Lets see how these crazy turns of events shakes up these Power Rankings...

Biggest Winner: Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets (+3)
Biggest Loser: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-5)

1. New England Patriots (10-3, +2): Tom Brady and the Patriots once again proved they are a notch above the rest of the NFL with a dominating win over the previously #1 Texans. The Pats went up by 28 in the third quarter, and never stepped down from that point. This team is easily playing its best football right now, and is playing better than any other team in the NFL. The Patriots are the strong favorites in my eyes in the AFC.

2. Houston Texans (11-2, -1): One poor game won't make me forget an entire season of relative dominance, but I don't know how to take the fact that both of the Texans' losses were primetime blow-outs. With the Texans still leading the race in the AFC for a first-round bye and a lock for the playoffs, the Texans need to find a way to win big games instead of collapsing.

3. San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1, +1): The Niners were able to bounce back from a humiliating loss to the Rams to beat the Dolphins 27-13. The 49ers may be the best overall team in the NFC but have showed some signs of weakness in certain games this year. I'm unsure if it was the right decision to start Colin Kaepernick right now... I suppose we'll see how the season (and post-season) finishes out.

4. New York Giants (8-5, +1): A blowout win against the Saints assures New York's control of the NFC East for another week. This team is so puzzling, though. In some games, they'll step it up and look dominant but they'll come out flat against bad teams like its their business. At this point, I'll give Tom Coughlin and the Giants the benefit of the doubt - they've won two Super Bowls limping their way to the playoffs. Why couldn't they do it again?

5. Atlanta Falcons (11-2, -3): I don't know why the Panthers were able to give the Falcons such trouble in their matchup in Week 14 - but the fact of the matter is, they did. The Atlanta defense I was raving about last week gave up 30 points to Cam Newton, who had a field day. Matt Ryan wasn't able to get things going, only scoring 20 points himself. The Falcons need to bounce back and get some momentum going into the playoffs. Or they could be one and done again.

6. Green Bay Packers (9-4, +0): The Packers took care of business against the Lions in their 27-20 snow bowl victory on Sunday night. With the Bears losing, the Packers now are in lone control of the NFC North. Of course, with them traveling to Chicago to play the Bears in Week 15, they have a chance to screw that all up.

7. Denver Broncos (10-3, +0): I really wish I could rank this team higher than #7. Don't get me wrong - the Broncos are a legitimate contender this season. They still have an elite defense that propelled them into the playoffs last year but Peyton Manning has completely changed this team's offensive identity, for the better. Look for the Broncos to make a strong push for a first-round bye.

8. Seattle Seahawks (8-5, +2): Due to flex scheduling, the Seattle-San Francisco game has been moved to Sunday night on Week 17. It seems that NBC expects that they can once again air the "NFC West championship". Unlike previous years, however, this would be a test between two good teams. Seattle plays like a Super Bowl champion at home, where they are undefeated this year, but they need to learn to win on the road. Lets see if they can go on the road to Toronto to get a win against the Bills.

9. Baltimore Ravens (9-4, +0): Following their 31-28 loss to the Redskins, the Ravens announced Monday they would fire offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. This is a long-overdue change since Joe Flacco really doesn't run Cameron's scheme well, but its curious as to why they would make this change now, on the verge of a playoff appearance. If Jim Caldwell, the interim offensive coordinator, utilizes Ray Rice some more, it would be a huge improvement, though.

10. Chicago Bears (8-5, -2): For whatever reason, the Bears defense that was so dominant earlier in the year have worn down in the last couple weeks, losing to both Seattle and now Minnesota. Jay Cutler needs to show he is capable of leading this team offensively while the defense struggles. The Bears have a chance to get back in the division race with a win over the Packers in Week 15. But its a sticky situation... a loss to the Packers will put them at 8-6, leaving them vulnerable to losing even their wildcard birth in a crowded NFC.

11. Indianapolis Colts (9-4, +2): No matter who you are, you have to respect what Andrew Luck is doing in Indianapolis this season. The Colts simply continue to win and are now 9-4, meaning they are all but guaranteed to earn a playoff birth this season. Luck has completely transformed this offense, which was so inept last year. Bruce Arians, the interim head coach, could be the first interim coach to be a candidate for Coach of the Year.

12. Washington Redskins (7-6, +3): I guess the season wasn't quite over yet... right Mike Shanahan? Since he suggested he was throwing in the towel, the Redskins have responded in a big way. They're still one game behind the Giants in the NFC East, and the playoffs are far from guaranteed in a crowded NFC but like what Andrew Luck is doing in Indianapolis, I like what Griffin has brought to this Redskins offense.

13. Minnesota Vikings (7-6, +3): Seems like there is some fight left in these Vikings, after all. Adrian Peterson continues to be a monster on the field. Running against a tough Bears defense, he ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday, leading his team to a 21-14 win. The Vikings go on the road to face a tough Rams team in Week 15.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6, +0): The Steelers' opportunity to catch up to the Ravens in the AFC North race was completely blown when the lost a laugher to the Chargers by a score of 34-24. And this was with Ben Roethlisberger back. There was really no excuse to play so badly against such a poor team but it puts the Steelers in a big hole going into Week 15. They'll face a Cowboys team that is also playing for its post-season life.

15. Cincinnati Bengals (7-6, -4): The Bengals' bandwagon train came to an abrupt stop with their 20-19 last-second loss to the Cowboys in Week 15. Its rare for out-of-conference games to hurt a team that much, but this loss severely hurts the Bengals. With the Colts all but clinching the #5 seed, the Bengals are in a tough and close race with Pittsburgh for an AFC wildcard birth.

16. Dallas Cowboys (7-6, +1): The Cowboys held on to dear life with a last-second field goal to allow them to get an important victory of the Bengals. It was an emotional victory due to the tragic death of Jerry Brown, similar to how the Chiefs were able to get a win after the entire Jovan Belcher tragedy. With the NFC wildcard is crowded as it is, Dallas's best chance to make the playoffs is probably winning the division... they need to keep winning and hope the Redskins and Giants fall off.

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7, -5): It seems this wasn't the team I thought it was, after all. The Bucs are much improved from last year but still have some holes that will keep them from making a playoff push, at least this year. Their defense gave up a big end-of-the-game drive to Nick Foles causing the Bucs to be upset by the Eagles 23-21. Dropping to 6-7, its now an extreme longshot for the Bucs to make the playoffs in a crowded NFC wildcard race.

18. St. Louis Rams (6-6-1, +1): Jeff Fisher has done wonders for the Rams, who have made it back to .500 after their 15-12 win over the Bills in Week 14. The Rams probably won't be able to make the playoffs this year but one has to love what kind of tough football they are playing. The future is bright for this ball club... it'll be exiting to see if they can continue to improve going into next season.

19. New Orleans Saints (5-8, -1): Drew Brees continued to struggle this week against the Giants, in route to a 52-27 beatdown from the Giants. Perhaps I was wrong when I said this team could challenge "any team", but I still think the Saints are extremely dangerous to playoff hopefuls. The Saints have an opportunity to put the final nail in the Bucs' coffin in Week 15.

20. Detroit Lions (4-9, +0): Detroit continues to play good solid football but can't seem to rack up wins this season. Jim Schwartz should get another chance next year but a 4-9 season coming off a playoff birth is far from what one would expect from the Lions. They'll want to address issues on both sides of the ball going into the off-season as the Lions once again find themselves in the NFC North cellar.

21. San Diego Chargers (5-8, +2): Now just where the eff did this come from? The Chargers were becoming a huge laughing-stock in the NFL, no one expected them to strongly challenge Pittsburgh (let alone win) against the Steelers 34-24 with their playoffs on the line... Obviously, the players are responding to news that broke that Norv Turner would be fired at the end of the season. I doubt this win will save his job, but it shows the Chargers do have the talent to compete.

22. New York Jets (6-7, +3): Well... the Jets won. They're technically still in the playoff hunt at 6-7, but they're probably the worst 6-7 team in the NFL. They just barely scraped by against the Jaguars 17-10, but Mark Sanchez continued to be ineffective and turnover prone (he lost a fumble against Jacksonville). They need a win against the Titans on Monday night to stay in the hunt.

23. Buffalo Bills (5-8, -2): It was a tough defensive match-up but the Bills still found a way to lose against the Rams at home 15-12. Chan Gailey's seat is getting very hot in Buffalo. With big moves in the off-season, Bills fans expected their team to finally compete for a long-overdue playoff birth. Instead, this is a team that fails to do the simplest things on Sundays.

24Miami Dolphins (5-8, -2): The Dolphins were in the game late in the 4th quarter but a large touchdown run by Colin Kapernick clinched the deal. Miami makes offense look hard. In his first start at Left Tackle, rookie Jonathan Martin got man-handled by Aldon Smith. The only good news for Dolphins fans is that Ryan Tannehill had a good game, all things considered. Miami needs to get him some weapons and offensive line help this off-season.

25Carolina Panthers (4-9, +2): The Panthers refused to roll over against the Falcons, as they upset the #1 seed in the NFC 30-20. Cam Newton went absolutely ballistic, showing flashes of his 2011 campaign - throwing for almost 300 yards and two touchdowns while having more than 100 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown, as well. If I were the Panthers, I'd give Ron Rivera one more year to get things figured out.

26. Cleveland Browns (5-8, +0): While a 30-7 win over the Chiefs isn't terribly impressive, the Browns are far from the pushover that they were earlier in the year. Pat Shurmur may have put together enough positives this season to keep his job, but we'll have to see. The Browns have a lot of young talent and Brandon Weeden, while far from being young, appears to be a guy who can lead this team for the next few years. The Browns still want to finish the season strong for their coach.

27. Tennessee Titans (4-9, -3): The Titans were able to play the Colts close but eventually lost to Andrew Luck and the Colts, falling to 4-9. They were actually up 20-7 at the half but the Colts defense eventually figured out Jake Locker, as he went on to have a pretty below average day, throwing two interceptions and only one touchdown. Chris Johnson was his usual inconsistent self - and only managed 2.3 yards per carry.

28. Philadelphia Eagles (4-9, +0): The Eagles seem to have embraced their role as spoiler and got a win for Andy Reid, during a last minute drive orchestrated by rookie Nick Foles to give the Eagles the 23-21 win over the Bucs. The Eagles now have to face the Bengals, another playoff hopeful, during a short week. I would not be surprised if the Eagles continued to play the role of spoiler... God knows the Eagles have talent, it's nice to see they might still have some fight left.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11, +1): This team is pretty puzzling. When the offense performs, the defense sucks and when the defense does well, the offense can't get moving. It's been that kind of season for the Jaguars, and a 17-10 loss to the Jets just adds another game to their resume. The Jaguars may just replace GM Gene Smith with QB Geno Smith this off-season.

30. Oakland Raiders (3-10, +1): The Raiders have fired a lot of defensive players this season. After getting rid of former first-round picks Rolando McClain and Aaron Curry, CB Ronald Bartell was next on the chopping block. I don't really blame the Raiders for making these changes as all three players suck, but it has the feeling of scapegoat written all over these moves. At least the Raiders have some high draft picks this season.

31. Arizona Cardinals (4-9, -2): This is the worst offense I've ever seen. The Cardinals have no healthy offensive linemen, Quarterbacks, or Runningbacks. Its completely sewn together by players who probably wouldn't even make other teams as backups. Ken Whisenhunt is probably gone after this season but I honestly don't think this train-wreck was his fault. The Cardinals still have a good defense and should be able to compete next year if they can replenish some offensive talent, especially up front.

32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-11, +0): One would think the Chiefs would play a little better coming off their big win last week. Instead, they get handed a bitter 30-7 loss against what was considered a defeatable Browns team. Following an first-play touchdown by Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs offense couldn't do anything else the rest of the day. To make matters worse, it looks like Dwayne Bowe is headed to I.R.

Predictions for Next Week

TKN's last week accuracy: 10-6 (62.50%)
Billy's last week accuracy: 9-7 (56.25%)
AFS's* last week accuracy: 10-6 (62.50%)

TKN's Overall 2012 accuracy: 133-75 (63.94%)
Billy's Overall 2012 accuracy: 119-89 (57.21%)
AFS's* Overall 2012 accuracy: 131-77 (62.98%)
*American Football Simulator averages of 2,000 simulations.

I survived a tough Week 14 with a 10-6 record, saved by a lot of the late games. Lets see if I can improve in Week 15.

Rookie Nick Foles looks to embrace is role as spoiler.
Cincinnati Bengals (7-6) @ Philadelphia Eagles (4-9)
TheKillerNacho: The Eagles can certainly play spoiler twice in a row, especially here at home on a short week. But I'm going to go with the better team... The Bengals may have faltered last week against the Cowboys, but this is a team that demolished the Giants just a few weeks ago.
Cincinnati 23, Philadelphia 21

Cincinnati 29, Philadelphia 23

American  Football Simulator:
Cincinnati 23, Philadelphia 22

Washington Redskins (7-6) @ Cleveland Browns (5-8)
TheKillerNacho: The Redskins shouldn't overlook the Browns here... they've been playing very solid football of late, including a 30-7 pasting of the Chiefs last week. Still, Griffin's injury last week wasn't serious so he should be good to go. Griffin should give the Redskins the offensive playmaking skills they need to overcome the Browns.
EDIT: With Griffin out, I'm changing this pick to the Browns over the Redskins.
Washington 20, Cleveland 21

Washington 21, Cleveland 16

American  Football Simulator:
Washington 21, Cleveland 22

Indianapolis Colts (9-4) @ Houston Texans (11-2)
TheKillerNacho: Look for the Texans to take care of business here against the Colts. While Andrew Luck has been phenomenal in his rookie season, the Colts are over-achieving at 9-4. I'm thinking they'll be sent back to Earth against a Texans team looking to rebound after an embarrassing loss to the Patriots on Monday night.
Indianapolis 21, Houston 27

Indianapolis 13, Houston 27

American Football Simulator:
Indianapolis 21, Houston 29

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) @ Miami Dolphins (5-8)
TheKillerNacho: Chad Henne returns to Miami to take on his former team, but I don't see him getting a win over the Dolphins. Miami's the better team, hands down. But it will be interesting to see Henne and Tannehill going at it...
Jacksonville 23, Miami 24

Jacksonville 22, Miami 31

American Football Simulator:
Jacksonville 21, Miami 22

Eyes are on Jim Caldwell as he replaces Cam Cameron as OC.
Denver Broncos (10-3) @ Baltimore Ravens (9-4)
TheKillerNacho: This Ravens defense is wearing down due to injuries. Peyton Manning is in a perfect position to exploit that. This game will be interesting for the Ravens to see how the offense changes now that Cam Cameron isn't at the helm. But its a game the Denver ought to win.
Denver 28, Baltimore 24

Denver 44, Baltimore 21

American Football Simulator:
Denver 23, Baltimore 24

Minnesota Vikings (7-6) @ St. Louis Rams (6-6-1)
TheKillerNacho: This is a tough game for me to pick but I really like what the Rams have been doing as of late. I think they can get an upset win over the Vikings here to spoil the Vikings' chances.
Minnesota 17, St. Louis 19

Minnesota 19, St. Louis 14

American Football Simulator:
Minnesota 22, St. Louis 23

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) @ New Orleans Saints (5-8)
TheKillerNacho: I'm thinking the Saints will come out and put the final nail in the Bucs' coffin here. New Orleans is never an easy place to go into and get a win, and the Bucs have to have low morale after two straight losses. Doug Martin should have a good game for the Bucs, but I think Drew Brees will bounce back and have an excellent game, too.
Tampa Bay 27, New Orleans 28

Tampa Bay 34, New Orleans 38

American Football Simulator:
Tampa Bay 24, New Orleans 28

New York Giants (8-5) @ Atlanta Falcons (11-2)
TheKillerNacho: I'm going to take the Giants. The Giants always seem to come out and play great against good opponents and it doesn't get much harder than winning against the Falcons in Atlanta. The Falcons aren't as good as their 11-2 record indicates and I think the Giants will expose them.
New York G 26, Atlanta 24

New York G 37, Atlanta 41

American Football Simulator:
New York G 24, Atlanta 25

Green Bay Packers (9-4) @ Chicago Bears (8-5)
TheKillerNacho: This game is HUGE for both teams. The Packers have a chance to wrap up the NFC North title with a win... but if the Bears win, the NFC North is wide open. If the Bears lose, however, they drop to 8-6 and risk losing even a wildcard birth. The Packers always seem to play the Bears hard as of late... I'll go with the Pack to defeat a Bears team that is wearing down after two straight losses.
Green Bay 24, Chicago 21

Green Bay 31, Chicago 17

American Football Simulator:
Green Bay 25, Chicago 22

Its hard to think of a more inept offense than ARI... ever.
Detroit Lions (4-9) @ Arizona Cardinals (4-9)
TheKillerNacho: The Cardinals offense is horrid right now. You'd have to be out of your mind to pick them in any game.
Detroit 30, Arizona 6

Detroit 14, Arizona 20

American Football Simulator:
Detroit 25, Arizona 23

Seattle Seahawks (8-5) @ Buffalo Bills (5-8)
TheKillerNacho: The Seahawks need to prove they can win on the road, and they get an excellent opportunity to do that in Toronto against the Bills. I seriously think the Seahawks are a strong contender this year... they should be able to overcome the demoralized Bills.
Seattle 26, Buffalo 22

Seattle 23, Buffalo 17

American Football Simulator:
Seattle 24, Buffalo 23

Carolina Panthers (4-9) @ San Diego Chargers (5-8)
TheKillerNacho: Both of these teams had upset wins last week. The Chargers are probably the better team. Having said that, I'm going with the Panthers. Its just a gut feeling added with the inability to trust the Chargers at all.
Carolina 27, San Diego 25

Carolina 28, San Diego 31

American Football Simulator:
Carolina 25, San Diego 26

Kansas City Chiefs (2-11) @ Oakland Raiders (3-10)
TheKillerNacho: Eh... this one is actually hard to pick just because both teams are so awful. I'll go with the Raiders at home but the Chiefs have a good chance to win this and hurt their Geno Smith chances.
Kansas City 16, Oakland 20

Kansas City 10, Oakland 24

American Football Simulator:
Kansas City 22, Oakland 23

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) @ Dallas Cowboys (7-6)
TheKillerNacho: Both of these teams are playing for their playoff lives at this point. Dallas is coming off a last minute win while the Steelers tasted bitter defeat at the hands of the Chargers last week. Ben Roethlisberger is back and the Steelers are probably more well-coahed. I'll probably regret this later but I'll go with the Steelers.
Pittsburgh 27, Dallas 24

Pittsburgh 23, Dallas 28

American Football Simulator:
Pittsburgh 25, Dallas 23

Colin Kaepernick gets a real test against the Patriots.
San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1) @ New England Patriots (10-3)
TheKillerNacho: This is a great Sunday night matchup that could end up being a Super Bowl matchup in February. The Patriots are at home and have shown they are playing better than pretty much everyone right now. I'll go with the Patriots.
San Francisco 25, New England 28

San Francisco 24, New England 35

American Football Simulator:
San Francisco 25, New England 22

New York Jets (6-7) @ Tennessee Titans (4-9)
TheKillerNacho: What a poor Monday night game. I'm going to go with the Titans because the Jets suck.  Although the Titans have also been known to suck this year. Meh.
New York J 20, Tennessee 21

New York J 20, Tennessee 33

American Football Simulator:
New York J 24, Tennessee 23

Question of the Week

Two weeks ago, I asked "Which coaches do you believe will be fired before next season?" between Romeo Crennel (KC), Ron Rivera (CAR), Ken Whisehunt (ARI), Rex Ryan (NYJ), Chan Gailey (BUF), Andy Reid (PHI), Jason Garrett (DAL), Pat Shurmur (CLE), Mike Munchak (TEN) and Norv Turner (SD)? I got a lot of response from this poll. The general consensus is that Andy Reid (72%) and Norv Turner (63%) are done while Romeo Crennel (45%), Ken Whisenhunt (45%), Jason Garrett (45%), and Rex Ryan (36%) could be. Most people seem to think Pat Shurmur (27%), Mike Munchak (27%), Ron Rivera (18%), and Chan Gailey (9%) are safe for at least another season, though.

There are a lot of teams that have coaches on the hotseat. This week's question is, "Of all the teams with more than 9 wins, which one is most likely a pretender?" between the Atlanta Falcons (11-2), Houston Texans (11-2), New England Patriots (10-3), Denver Broncos (10-3), or the San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1)? Last week, both the Texans and Falcons showed signs of being a pretender with big losses. The Falcons have played a very easy schedule and haven't really looked dominant all year... I'd say there is a good possibility the Falcons go one and done again.

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